Killer Trips: East#3 Smugglers' Notch, NH


Even if you’re not packing offspring, be thankful that Smuggs’ spends the majority of its marketing budget in rabid pursuit of skiing families. These tactics throw most childless rippers off the scent. Despite the proliferation of snotty noses and Harry Potter lunch boxes in the base lodge, Smuggs’ is home to deliciously gnarly terrain that tumbles over a fat 2,610-foot vertical drop. With the ledgy, legendary steeps of Freefall, the rotund bumps of Smugglers’ Alley, and an ever-expanding network of off-piste jewels, Smuggs’ terrain-particularly Madonna Mountain, home to hairball steeps like Upper FIS and the Black Hole-rivals that of any Northeastern mountain. The difference is that everyone already knows about those other places.

Those who think Northeastern glade skiing is all shin banging and bushwhacking should check out the sweetly spaced trees of Doc Dempsey’s (skier’s right on Madonna), which harbor the best fluff on the mountain.

With an annual average of 285 inches, Smugglers’ gets it better than southern neighbor Stowe. And with Ma and Pa cruisin’ the blue squares and the groms flopping about in the terrain park, Madonna’s steeps and glades hold snow well.

Bang a right out of Smuggs’s parking lot and hit the Brewski (802-644-6366) for beer, pool, and, on weekends, live music. You can easily walk there, which is probably a good thing.

Local’s Take
“People think Smuggs’ is a groomed-over family resort, but it’s actually very rough and unpredictable. Even if you’ve skied it a lot, there’s always an element of surprise.”

The Vitals

Vertical Drop 2,610 feet
Snowfall 285 inches
Acres 270
Trails 72
Lifts 8
Phone 800-451-8752